Pascagoula-Gautier School District, Jackson County School District, Moss Point School District, Ocean Springs School District (2023)

P3 - Passion - Purpose - Paycheck is a workforce development program born out of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Education/Workforce Development Committee, one of five subcommittees under the umbrella of the Jackson County Chamber of Chamber. The VOLUNTEER committee’s mission is to support education, leadership and workforce development in Jackson County. Thirty members meet once a month to discuss the issues facing education in getting young people prepared for the workforce and the ongoing need for a quality workforce ready to work. Members of the committee include the four school districts in Jackson County – Pascagoula-Gautier School District; Jackson County School District, Moss Point School District and Ocean Springs School District, (superintendents and their vocational directors and guidance counselors), the Adult Learning Center (for GEDs) Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, WIN Job Center, United Way of Jackson and George Counties, Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, William Carey University, the University of Southern Mississippi/Gulf Coast Research Lab, Mississippi State University, Chevron, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Power and Singing River Health System. In discussions, the group realized that high school guidance counselors did not have the time to focus on meeting with students to analyze and discuss their plans following high school. In order to assist, the group decided to embed a career coach in all seven public high schools in Jackson County. A Career Coach’s purpose is to meet with seniors to develop a plan of action to help them be successful after high school. The students take a You Science Assessment to uncover their aptitudes and align students’ natural abilities to careers that interest them. The students also take the ACT Workkeys Assessments to measure foundational skills required for success in the workplace. The career counselors meet students where they are, listening to their stories, and finding out the obstacles holding them back from being successful. Some of these barriers include teen pregnancy, single moms, gender struggles, parental drug and alcohol abuse, eviction, no transportation, parents who are non-citizens and financial concerns. Career coaches support these students by helping them work through these barriers to find their passion so they can be successful following high school. With a clear plan in place, career coaches guide students to be enrolled in either a two-year, four-year or vocational college, enlist in the military or employment, ultimately finding success in an interesting and rewarding field. By building relationships with the students, the coaches find what students are passionate about and set them on a course for success. Through P3’s website, students have the opportunity to watch inspiring stories of young Jackson County employees who now live and work in Jackson County across a wide variety of career fields. The coaches also provide direct connections to local business and industry through site visits and by bringing in business and industry guest speakers to the high schools to speak with students. These volunteer partnerships have opened students' eyes to the broad range of careers available to them here in their hometowns. Volunteer event, You’re Hired! partners high school juniors and leaders in business for a job interview and breakout sessions and volunteer event - The Path That Pays provides opportunities for business and industry to speak directly with students and their parents about all the career opportunities available locally. It’s a win-win for our students and business and industry with career technical courses at both the high school and college level providing the bridge for many of these success stories.